The Beautification Committee is also involved in the following special projects:
John English Arboretum
For several years, the Beautification Committee has envisioned the creation of an arboretum in Bloomington. An arboretum is a collection of trees intended to serve as a unique educational and informational resource for citizens to learn more about tree species native to the region. Bloomington has a long history of supporting the planting and maintenance of trees throughout the City, resulting in receipt of the coveted Tree City USA designation for the past several years.
In 2003, a master plan for the arboretum was developed in conjunction with Thompson Dyke & Associates, landscape design consultant. The master plan was formally adopted by the Beautification Committee in March 2004. On Arbor Day in April 2004, a linear portion of Constitution Trail at the Alton Depot Park was formally dedicated to John English, as the initial phase and focal point for the Arboretum.
John English is a local resident, Master Gardener, tree expert, and plant enthusiast who has devoted his life to the study of trees indigenous to Central Illinois. He grows many varieties on his farm and has gifted hundreds of his trees over the years to the community and McLean County. John is also a member of Friends of the Constitution Trail and a key contributor to the Bloomington Tree Booklet. It is John’s vision and contributions that the Beautification Committee embraces and supports through the creation and dedication of the John English Arboretum.
The Arboretum will eventually stretch from Lincoln Avenue west to Route 9 along Constitution Trail. It also can be expanded in the future with larger parcels of land in the community, either adjacent to or separate from Constitution Trail. Native specimens and other specimen trees not commonly found in Central Illinois will be considered for planting in the Arboretum. In addition, the Arboretum will provide a location for memorial trees and designated Arbor Day trees.
A booklet containing images and information on trees indigenous to Illinois, and particularly in Bloomington, was created by the Beautification Committee in the 1970s. The Committee continues to compile and update the booklet as a service to our community. Specific locations of trees can be found in the booklet, which enables citizens to view and identify actual specimens. The booklet can be obtained free of charge at the local Farmers Market in downtown Bloomington during the summer months. It can also be obtained by contacting a Committee member, Parks & Recreation Department, or you may view the Tree Booklet online.
The Beautification Committee participates in the City’s Adopt-A-Pot program each spring to help beautify downtown Bloomington. The Committee’s flower pot is currently located at the southeast corner of East and Front Streets. Plant materials are donated and planted by Committee members who also maintain the pot through the summer months.
Miller Park Tree Identification
In addition to its recreational and entertainment facilities, Miller Park is an educational environment on Bloomington's near west side. Tree specimens within the Park have been cataloged and labeled for easy identification. The full register of tree can be accessed online at the Miller Park Tree Registry.
Veterans Parkway widening
The Beautification Committee took an active role when Veterans Parkway was widened during 1999 through 2003. Working closely with the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Town of Normal, and City of Bloomington staff, the Committee convinced IDOT to landscape the center median and easements, creating a more attractive linear, thoroughfare in both communities.
Parking Lot Landscaping Ordinance
In 1999, the Beautification Committee participated in the review of an updated ordinance to improve landscaping requirements for parking lots in the City containing ten or more spaces. The City staff prepared the updated ordinance using a template from other communities, which primarily addresses parking lots for commercial, institutional, and multiple-family uses. The new ordinance was endorsed by the Beautification Committee and adopted by the City Council in September 2000. It has been successfully applied to several new developments in the City since then.
In 2002, the Beautification Committee was requested by members of the Bloomington City Council to review the existing littering ordinance, which was dated and ineffective. The Committee researched and reviewed examples of current littering ordinances from other communities and determined that fines should be higher with stronger enforcement. The Committee’s recommendation to City staff in February 2004 resulted in a new updated littering ordinance for the City, which was formally adopted in by the City Council in July 2004.
Design Guidelines/Form-Based Zoning
During the 1990s, the Beautification Committee embarked upon a study to consider establishing design guidelines for the City of Bloomington. The Committee researched and reviewed several examples of design guidelines and standards implemented in other communities in the State of Illinois and across the country.
The Committee also prepared an extensive slide presentation showing examples of existing residential and commercial properties in the community. The presentation was shared with various service organizations and City staff to increase awareness and gather support for continued evaluation. Discussions were also held with consultants experienced with creating and implementing design guidelines.
In February 2004, the Beautification Committee partnered with the Historic Preservation Commission to discuss renewed interest in the application of design guidelines or standards, especially in established neighborhoods and the downtown area. A small ad hoc committee was formed, including neighborhood association representatives, to further explore the concept. The committee developed a recommendation to the City staff seeking further direction.
At the same time, “form-based zoning” was being researched by the City staff and considered as a viable alternative to achieve appropriate standards for new development of existing properties in established neighborhoods. Form-based zoning emphasizes the physical size, form, and placement of new development, in addition to conventional land uses and density controls, as an overlay to the existing zoning plan and code for specific areas. In 2007, the City Council adopted a form-based code for the Gridley, Allin, & Prickett neighborhood, which provides development regulations to respect and preserve the character of an existing neighborhood. The regulations include uses, parking, and landscape standards, as well as building type standards.